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Progress Monitoring at the Secondary Level

This comes from Pat Quinn, the RtI Guy

Progress monitoring is much more difficult to grasp at the middle school and high school level when multiple subjects branch off in different directions and teachers become more focused on the “topic of the day” than on a over-arching skill like “reading”.

To help secondary teachers grasp this concept, I recommend they begin by asking a simple question:  What are the essential skills I am trying to teach?

These “essential skills” should go beyond the “topic of the day” and even beyond the chapter or course you are teaching.  A great use of professional development time is to meet by department and come up with a list of “essential skills” that transcend any day, chapter or course.

One question I often ask teachers to ignite this thinking is, “What causes students to fail your class?”  Usually a teacher who has been around for a few years can immediately name two or three essential skills that if students are missing they will almost always fail the class.

The science teachers at a nearby high school recently met to determine their essential skills.

After much debate, the came up with a short list of skills that were bigger than any single daily objective, chapter outcome, or course standard.

One skill on their list was “graphing”.  You graph in Earth Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  You do it in Chapter One, Chapter Three and Chapter Ten.  It is bigger than any day, chapter or course.  It is an essential skill.  If you do not know how to graph, you will fail science class.

The teachers came up with a simple 10-point rubric to evaluate all graphs.  Then RTI came into focus:

During the first chapter of the year in all science classes, students were asked to make a graph and it was evaluated. (universal screening)

In each chapter during the first quarter of the year, students were giving full-class instruction on making graphs. (Tier one)

During each chapter during the first quarter, students were asked to make graphs and they were evaluated using the same rubric. (Tier One Progress Monitoring)

Some students improved during the large group instruction – the data showed they were learning or had mastered graphing.

Other students did not improve during the first quarter.  These students were placed into a small group and received additional instruction on graphing. (Tier Two Intervention)

During the second quarter these students continued to have their graphs evaluated on the same rubric.  (Tier Two Progress Monitoring)

This is RTI being applied at the secondary level. 

The concepts and steps do not change:

Universal Screening
Tier One Full Class Instruction
Tier One Progress Monitoring
Tier Two Interventions
Tier Two Progress Monitoring

But the entire process starts with teachers identifying these “essential skills”.

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